Shelley called me in tears from the hospital. Marcus, her husband of thirty-two years, had died earlier that evening. His passing was not unexpected – cancer had spread throughout his body, and three weeks ago Marcus entered palliative care. I had visited him twice, giving the couple and their two grown sons whatever support I could. And now, I was glad to support Shelley in this time of her need – and gently let her know that she should not feel guilty because Marcus had died when she and her sons had left him to go downstairs to the hospital cafeteria for dinner.
"I feel so selfish," she said, sobbing. "While we were eating – and laughing! Marc was dying – alone!"
"Shelley," I said tenderly, "take a deep breath, and tell me what happened."
She and her sons had been visiting, and noticed that Marcus was a bit more quiet than usual. At times, he stared off into space. Shelley sensed her husband was feeling troubled about something, and redoubled her efforts to cheer him up. Around five o’clock, he said he was feeling better, and told her and their sons to go downstairs for a bite to eat. "Don’t go hungry on my account," he said.
Shelley chuckled into the phone. "How typically Marc. He never wanted to inconvenience anyone." Then she began weeping again. "But I feel so… guilty!"
"I understand your feelings," I told her. "But you have nothing to feel guilty about. Look at it this way – maybe Marcus asked you to leave because deep down he felt it was his time to pass into spirit. Maybe his soul just knew."
Carefully, I explained what I believe, based on what I have learned through my work as a medium. The moment of someone’s death and transition into the afterlife is difficult for some individuals, because they feel caught between the physical world and the spirit world. On one hand, their soul is preparing to meet the spirits of family members who have already passed and are happy to see them, yet they also feel tied to friends and family members in the living who are sad to see them go. So, rather than give pain to loved ones left behind, the individual tries to arrange his own passing, when no one is around.
"But I don’t understand," Shelley said. "Why would Marc want to die?"
"No one wants to die," I said, trying to comfort her. "But his body was very weak. He was in pain, and under constant sedation. His choice was to remain here in pain, or transition to a more peaceful realm, where his spirit would be free."
"And he didn’t die alone, thinking we’d abandoned him at his worst moment?"
"Not at all," I said, and told her what had happened at the passing of my mentor, Sadie, who was like a surrogate mother to me. As Sadie’s moment of death approached, she telephoned to say she was being visited by her mother, brothers and other family members in spirit who were preparing a place for her in the next world. This cheered her immensely.
Shelley seemed buoyed by my words. Yet she asked, "Are you sure this is what happened to Marc?"
I was about to tell Shelley that I believed that wholeheartedly. But I remembered that Shelley was a friend, not a client, and she was comfortable with her religious convictions. What I was telling her was probably not easy to digest for someone whose spiritual ideas were different than mine.
"I do feel it’s true," I said, "but until it’s our time go home, we really won’t know for sure."
"And do you think…" Shelley struggled with her words. "Do you think… when it’s my time to… you know… will Marc be there to help me… into heaven?"
"I’m sure of it," I promised. "That much I know for sure."
"Thank you," she said softly. We talked a few minutes more, then she hung up. I had wanted badly to tell her that, when he was ready, Marcus would visit his wife here on the earth plane, and continue to watch over her and their sons. But, as I said, Shelley was comfortable with her religious beliefs and I wasn’t going to press my philosophy onto hers. But I did tactfully let her know that if she started dreaming about Marcus, or if she began finding pennies in her house, or catch his presence in the corner of an eye – well, she could call me to chat anytime.
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